Alumni ProfileTrudy Kievit Faber '60
Organ evangelist

FaberTrudy Kievit Faber ’60 is well aware that even most music lovers—never mind the general public—do not rush out to hear an organ recital. She wants to change that.

“I want people to say, ‘This is the first organ recital where I haven’t been bored,’” Faber said.

A full professor in the music department at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, Faber, in addition to her teaching duties, performs concerts, recitals, master classes and lecture/demonstrations around the country and in Europe. In fact, invitations often come through the scores of former students with whom she’s stayed in touch.

“How you program a performance helps you capture your audience,” Faber explained. “I choose pieces for their flow—louder, softer, longer, shorter—but also, to draw people in, I do things they may never have heard before. I’ll play a piece with my feet only: up to six notes at once using just the pedals. One of my pedals-only pieces is a depiction of Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.” The music is really dissonant and the rhythms harsh, so I break it into sections and have stanzas of the poem read between them.”

Her poem reader—and, on historic organs, stop puller—is her husband, J. Arthur Faber ’59, retired from the English department at Wittenberg. He says of his wife, “She plays so young, with such energy. I don’t mean faster. She gets inside the music.”

“I try to feel the composer’s intent in the music,” Faber added. “If an audience can hear that, then they’re not bored; they’re feeling joy, reflection, sadness—whatever the composer meant—and that is uplifting, to me and to my listeners.”

An educator at heart, Faber writes extensive notes for her programs and between pieces tells her audiences stories about the composers and compositions and suggests what they can listen for. She takes that role further still in the lecture/demonstrations she gives. In one she calls “Bach and the Dance,” Faber, a specialist in Baroque music, tries to decontaminate Bach of the Romantic style in which he’s usually played.

On her European tours, Faber is as much student as performer/educator. “I learn so much about the music by playing the instruments that the music was written for,” she said. During her sabbatical in 2007, Faber toured Germany and played an authentic Baroque organ in Rötha, “glorious for performing Bach and other Baroque pieces.” Besides the historic organs, Faber played in historic spaces, like St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, where Bach, as the city’s cantor, was responsible for the music each week. On two earlier European tours, Faber played in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Handel’s musical home. The sound quality of those spaces, she said, teaches her a great deal about the music composed in and for them.

In this country, Faber has performed in grand spaces, too, like the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and on grand instruments. In 1997, she was featured in the Distinguished Organists Recital Series at West Point; the organ there, with its 326 stops, is the world’s third-largest.

In the past decade, Faber has seen a resurgence of interest in the organ. That’s exciting to someone who’s given 42 years to helping others hear in its music “the Divine speaking to the soul with the beauty that we need and crave to be fully human.”